The Tree of Knowledge
Guru Purnima: Its Significance & How to Celebrate it
Across the world Guru Purnima is being celebrated on 3rd July to express gratitude to the Guru. Sri Sri Ravi Shankar reminds us that Guru Purnima is the day to feel grateful for the great knowledge you have received from your master. It is time to review how much knowledge you could ingrain in your life in past one year. This may bring about a realization for scope of improvement which in turn will bring humility in you. Be grateful for the way this knowledge has transformed you. Just think how you could have been without this. There is a definite change inside you. If you cannot see any change, then you haven’t had a good look within yourself. Gratitude and humility together blossom a genuine prayer inside you!
Guru is a tatva – an element, a quality; inside you. It is not limited to a body or a form. Life is an ocean of love. Flow the lamp of knowledge in it. Even let the knowledge be flown away in the ocean of love. The ego that comes out of truth and knowledge is dangerous. Sense of righteousness makes you hard. So in the wave of devotion and love, you even let the knowledge get washed out.
Q. What is the story behind Guru Purnima?
A. Acharya (teacher) gives knowledge and Guru gives height of awareness and makes you alive. Acharya gives information, Guru gives intelligence, an awakened intelligence. Mind is connected with moon. Full moon is completion, the pinnacle. On Guru Purnima the devotee wakes up in full gratitude. Devotee becomes like an ocean moving in itself. It’s the time to come in fullness. It’s a time to celebrate. It’s also called “Vyasa Purnima”. Vyasa had given knowledge on each and every subject. So on Guru Purnima you remember all gurus of the past. It is the day when devotees assess what lessons they have learned and how they are growing in knowledge. It’s reviewing yourself in knowledge. Mind needs to be reminded again and again, so we review it.
Q. People blindly worship a Guru? Is it ok? Shouldn’t they just worship the divine?
A. Why does somebody adore someone else? In college, rock star, movie stars, sports players are adored. This adulation is part of human nature. Deep inside it is your ability to appreciate and honour good qualities. This adulation of Gurus has come down the ages. In the East, people took pride in their Gurus. There was a lot of respect but it’s missing in the students now. We have now gone to the other extreme. When your life is full, you get a feeling of gratitude. You start with the Guru and end up adoring everything in life. Guru is just a beginning. In the East the tradition was that before cutting a tree, you have to plant 5 more. An innocent mind sees life everywhere. Life has to be honored, adored. If you cannot do this, then what else is left in life? Whenever you praise, the praise goes to the divine. If you praise your Guru, the praise goes to the divine. When you praise someone, you own consciousness is expanding. So for your own sake, adore and venerate others.
Q. How to find a guru or choose a guru?
A. Guru comes in your life in spite of your refusing or rebelliousness. Don’t struggle to make a Guru. Just relax. Life keeps changing. Wake up and see. Feel grateful. Give all your garbage to the Guru. Guru makes gold out of garbage. Guru makes a fool intelligent. It is easy to make that change because everyone is made up of that one thing.
In his discourse on who is a Guru, Sri Sai Baba explains that a Guru is necessary to make you understand the formless and attributeless Divinity. Since it is difficult to get such Gurus, consider God as your Guru.
Gurur Brahma Gurur Vishnu Guru Devo Maheswara;
Gurur Sakshat Para Brahma Thasmai Sri Gurave Namaha
Guru is Brahma, Guru is Vishnu, Guru is Maheswara. Consider Guru as your everything. In this world, everything is a manifestation of Divinity.
Sarvam Khalvidam Brahma (verily all this is Brahman). All are the embodiments of Divinity. In fact, all that you see is nothing but the Divine Cosmic Form (Viswa Virat Swarupa).
Sahasra Seersha Purusha
Sahasraksha Sahasra Padh
With thousands of heads, thousands of feet and thousands of eyes, Divinity pervades everything.
This means all the heads, all the feet and all the eyes that we see in this world belong to God. When the Vedic statement, Sahasra Seersha… was made, the population of the world was only a few thousands, but now it runs into a few hundred crores. In those days, people considered everybody as Divine. They believed in the Vedic dictum, Sarva Bhuta Namaskaram Kesavam Pratigachchati (salutations to all beings reach God). Easwara Sarva Bhutanam (God is the indweller of all beings). Isavasyam Idam Sarvam (the entire universe is permeated by God). Divinity is not restricted to a particular place. God is here, God is there and He is everywhere. You are developing differences out of delusion, but Divinity is One and only One. It is the duty of a Guru to propagate such principle of oneness.
How to observe Guru Purnima
Swami Sivananda recommends: “Wake up at Brahmamuhurta (at 4 a.m.) on this most holy day. Meditate on the lotus feet of your Guru. Mentally pray to him for his Grace, through which alone you can attain Self-realisation. Do vigorous Japa and meditate in the early morning hours. “After bath, worship the lotus feet of your Guru, or his image or picture with flowers, fruits, incense and camphor. Fast or take only milk and fruits the whole day.
Of this worship it is said in the Guru Gita:
Dhyaana moolam guror murtih;
Pooja moolam guror padam;
Mantra moolam guror vakyam;
Moksha moolam guror kripa
The Guru’s form should be meditated upon; the feet of the Guru should be worshipped; his words are to be treated as a sacred Mantra; his Grace ensures final liberation.
In the afternoon, sit with other devotees of your Guru and discuss with them the glories and teachings of your Guru. Alternatively, you may observe the vow of silence and study the books or writings of your Guru, or mentally reflect upon his teachings. Take fresh resolves on this holy day, to tread the spiritual path in accordance with the precepts of your Guru. At night, assemble again with other devotees, and sing the Names of the Lord and the glories of your Guru. The best form of worship of the Guru is to follow his teachings, to shine as the very embodiment of his teachings, and to propagate his glory and his message.
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